As I unpacked the bag, I was immediately impressed and wished I had found it years ago. It is stored in a nice nylon sack, which should work great to keep it out of sight. No one needs to know that you have something hidden away for an emergency. The pack is midsized, but has plenty of room to add personal items and additional supplies if you wish. Pockets and compartments abound on this bag, all with heavy-duty zippers or elastic tops to help keep things organized.
Another great thing about this bag is that it comes loaded and ready to go. All the items – and they are plentiful– are neatly stowed and organized. No bulky packaging here.
THE BASIC KIT INCLUDES:
1 compact backpack
1 2.5-liter hydration system by Condor Outdoor
1 Echo-Sigma 1-3 Day Provision Pack (arid, with a ﬁve-year storage life in a warmer environment)
1 Echo-Sigma Compact Survival Kit that includes:
1 emergency whistle
1 emergency blanket by Coghlan’s
1 BIC-brand butane disposable lighter
1 magnesium ﬁre starter with ﬂint striker
40 waterproof matches by Coghlan’s
1 Live Fire Sport Emergency Fire Starter
50 inches of duct tape
1 bottle of water puriﬁcation tablets by Coghlan’s
2 chemical light sticks by Coghlan’s
2 BIC-brand ballpoint pens
1 pad of paper
1 set of earplugs
1 Echo-Sigma Compact First Aid Kit with:
1 4-inch scissor
1 3-inch tweezer
1 ﬁrst aid card
20 plastic bandages
12 alcohol swabs
10 wet wipes
10 antiseptic swabs
3 sting relief swabs
4 pain relief tablets
2 3-inch by 3-inch sterile gauze pads
1 2-inch by 5-yard gauze roll
1 5-inch by 9-inch sterile abdominal dressing
1 0.5-inch by 2.5-yard roll of tape
Access to 14 exclusive online training videos
1 SOG Reactor multitool
1 waterproof LED ﬂashlight by Fenix (187 lumen)
50 feet of military-grade 550 paracord
10 extra large zip ties
1 Coghlan’s Emergency Tube Tent
1 emergency poncho
1 plexiglass mirror for signaling help
1 Cocoon thermal sleeping bag by Survival Industries
6 premium AA alkaline batteries (guaranteed fresh for seven years)
1 pair leather work gloves
2 N95-rated respirator masks
1 pair of protective goggles
2 hand warmers by Coghlan’s
But this bag is not simply a “one size fits all” solution. You’ll find a wealth of customizable options based on your personal needs and preferences on the company website.
First among these are three bag color choices: red, black and coyote brown. Want a more powerful flashlight? No problem, as even a headlamp is an option. Would you like more food? Add an MRE to boost calorie count and time in flight.
How about a different multi-tool? Four are offered at different price points.
Further website research reveals the availability of knives, axes, a folding shovel (entrenching tool) and more goodies, including a multi-powered radio.
LifeStraw and other water-purification items are available as well, and did I mention the Geigerrig Pressurized Hydration System with inline filter? There, I did. The instructions for each item in the bag are also included in a small waterproof pouch. After all, depending on the scenario, you might just need something to read.
But wait, there is still more! Want to step it up another notch? Echo-Sigma offers a SOG special edition Get Home Bag loaded with lots of gear.
Feel as if you don’t need all the items listed above? Opt for the Runner bag, a slimmed-down bag geared for lighter weight and faster travel, although it is also available with plenty of options and upgrades.
Desire something even larger? They have many fullsized bug-out bags with plenty of options and upgrades, plus a monstrous Emergency Roll Away for Two (ER2) kit that is packed with two bug-out bags and more gear. (Quick pause to drool – I do want one of these.)
What if you are already working on your own bag and just need a few more elements? No sweat. EchoSigma can provide a wide variety of pieces and parts to top off your kit, including food and water, trauma kits, compact survival kit, knives, tools – you name it. I ordered an Echo-Sigma Provision Pack to supplement my own ever-changing pack, an addition that will provide three to 10 days of food and water, depending on my activity.
This great company offers several other products, and among those are three I would consider “special” bags. First, a Range bag that includes magazine pouches, a first aid kit and a trauma kit (which I review elsewhere in this issue), and two Active Shooter Response System bags of different sizes. These are designed in conjunction with federal law enforcement officers to help keep them supplied in that type of situation.
All Echo-Sigma offerings are very well thought out, packed in heavy-duty packs and bags, correctly stowed and ready to use, so kudos to this fine company for doing much of the hard work for us.
To start your research, or to continue planning and building a personalized kit for yourself or a loved one, visit echo-sigma.com. ASJ
We’ve all been part of these discussions, and we’ve all read a ton of them on forums and blogs over the years: “If you could have only one gun for TEOTWAWKI, what would it be?” A more enlightened-seeming variant on this same theme are discussions that start with, “If you could pick only three guns for WTSHTF…”
Here’s what’s wrong with so many of these discussions: no matter what flavor of civilization-ending apocalypse you contemplate–meteor strike, super volcano, global pandemic , EMP blast, etc.–a SHTF scenario is likely to play out in phases, and for each phase you’re going to need a different skill set and a different load-out. You’ll not just need a gun, but a complement of tools and skills.
Below is my brief attempt to sketch out the three phases that society would go through in a total collapse, and to think about some load-out options for each. Sure, you could read this and then pick three guns–one gun per phase–but by the end you’ll see that this attitude is putting the cart before the horse. The smarter thing to do is to put together a set of load-outs that will give you multiple options for dealing with each phase. You may still end up with three guns, but the point is that “which three guns… ” is not the question that you start with. Instead, the right question is “What mix of weapons and accessories are the best fit for each of the scenarios I’m envisioning?”
Phase 1: Martial Law and Trigger-Happy Authorities
In the initial phase of a catastrophe, a phase that admittedly may last only a day or two depending on the swiftness and severity of the cataclysm, there will be some attempt by authorities to maintain law and order. During this phase, if you’re walking around with an AR or AK strapped to your back, you’re likely to be taken for a looter and shot on sight.
This is the red dot or reflex sight + polymer frame pistol phase. Mobile, concealable, accurate, quiet, and 100% reliable are what you’re looking for. Don’t worry about how long the batteries will last in your Aimpoint right now. You just have to get through this phase without getting arrested or shot.
If you think you’re going to get through this phase with a bow or a crossbow, then all I can say is that I’ll be glad to use your bow in phase 3 when I stumble across your corpse clutching it.
My personal fantasy load-out for this phase would be a suppressed Glock 17 paired with something like the Daniel Defense ISR-300 (a short-barreled rifle chambered in .300 Blackout with an integrally attached suppressor).
Why the focus on stealth? Because if you do have to shoot someone or something during this phase, there’s a good chance that you may not want the whole neighborhood to know that shots were fired at your house. The authorities will be dealing with mass chaos and won’t have time to sort out who shot first, so if they show up at your house and you’re armed to the teeth and standing over a pile of corpses, then it may not go well for you. So a suppressed short-barreled rifle is your best bet for home defense here, because at least you have the option of not involving an organized gang of heavily armed, yet frightened and confused people (i.e. the police or whoever is trying to maintain order) who may decide that you’re a threat.
Note that now is the time for you to either start your NFA paperwork or obtain the theoretical know-how to build a homemade can. I’m not saying go out and build a silencer, because that’s illegal. But maybe download the info, print it out, and store it as part of your bug-out gear. Do not under any circumstances attempt to actually make a homemade silencer, though, because that’s a felony. You do it, you get caught, you go to jail. End of story. I’m not winking or smiling here. Do not do it, and in fact don’t even gather the materials for it because you don’t want to be guilty of constructive possession of such a thing.
Experienced pistol shooters (which does not describe me) will no doubt be fine skipping the CQB personal defense weapon (PDW) and using a suppressed semi-auto pistol for this phase. This is great, because as I mentioned above, you’ll need a pistol anyway.
So get your phase 1 load-out together, and learn to shoot and move with it. And for God’s sake just pick the best tools for the immediate job at hand without worrying about whether or not the batteries will last another 20 years. You’ll need every technological advantage, no matter how fragile and/or short-lived that technology may seem, to fight your way through this temporary phase. If you can afford some good night-vision equipment, then by all means add it to your Phase 1 load-out and quit worrying about whether your grandchildren will still be able to use it to defend the homestead.
Phase 2: Lawlessness and Die-off
This is the open-carry assault rifle phase. Very few people are going to make it past this phase, but if you do, it’s because you have reliable long gun, plenty of ammo, a good optic, some training, and a few capable allies at your side.
The people who have survived Phase 1 are not going to be happy campers. They’ll be hungry, justifiably terrified, and aggressive. They’ll also be gathered together in groups and gangs, which is exactly how you should plan to roll during this phase. More allies with guns means a better chance for you and yours to survive, which is why the training that you do for this phase should involve learning to shoot and move as part of a group.
You’ll want carbine and shotgun options. The pistol that got you through Phase 1 will probably become a rarely used backup weapon, and your long guns will become your primary weapons. My personal pick for Phase 2 is an AR-15 with a Trijicon ACOG, but that’s because I know the AR platform pretty well. Others will choose the AK. There’s also the Tavor, SCAR, and numerous other options. I won’t wade into this debate because this is what most people are thinking of when they post, “What gun and optic should I get for SHTF?” in various forums.
Phase 3: Long-Term Survival
At some point your optics will run out of batteries, and depending on your stockpiles, you may run out of ammo even before then. When this happens, it’s all about trapping and snares, fishing, farming, and finding ways to harvest a few thousand calories per day per family member.
Note that taking wild game of any kind is difficult, and it involves a lifetime of practice. Depending on the terrain you’re in and your skill set, hunting for food will range from very difficult to downright impossible. Farming is far easier and more predictable, so if you really want to be prepared then you should learn to grow your own food.
Of course, you will still do some shooting. This is the phase where you get to bust out that double-barreled shotgun with the multi-caliber barrel inserts and go scavenging for ammo. If that shotgun was your Phase 1 weapon, then you probably didn’t make it this far, but it will make a fine Phase 3 hunting and home/farm defense gun.
This is the phase where a lot of people plan to rely on archery to take game. Please. Bow hunting is hard. Trapping isn’t a cakewalk, but it’s a vastly easier and more reliable way to get protein that stalking around in the woods with a bow. It also relies far less on expensive consumables (i.e arrowheads and strings) that you’d need to stockpile.
I personally think that once-again-cheap 22LR ammo is the best thing to stock up on for this phase, and judging by the recent shortage, plenty of people agree with me.
Many of you will disagree with some, or even all, of my recommendations. But I hope if you take away anything from this article, it’s the idea that any catastrophe will unfold in series of distinct phases or stages, and you’ll need to prepare for each one. The tools and skills that will get you through the initial phase won’t necessarily be the best suited for the next phase, and so on. So the answer is to have specialized load-outs for different types of situations. You want to have options so that you can improvise, adapt, and overcome. Don’t think in terms of “one gun” or “three guns.” Think in terms of scenarios and loadouts.
This is actually how US Special Forces operate. They have different load-outs that fit different mission profiles. Sometimes this involves selecting different weapons and tools, and sometimes it involves reconfiguring the same weapon or tool. But the main thing is that they have options, and they adapt their load-out to fit their situation.
What types of scenarios do you imagine that you’ll face in a catastrophe, and what type of load-out (gun, optic, ammo, clothing, tools) would be the best fit for each scenario? Don’t get sucked into the game of trying to put together one single loadout that will fit every scenario, because I promise you, when you’re watching the chaos unfold and you’re wetting your pants, you’re going to wish dearly that you hadn’t tied yourself to a one-size-fits-all, jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none solution. You’re going to want to reach for the very best tool for the job that is immediately staring you in the face, and you won’t be happy if you’re stuck with the second- or third-best tool for wide a range of jobs that you may or may not encounter.
Story & Photos by BilJ
The AK family of weapons is reliable and rugged. It was designed to be operated by illiterate teenage conscripts with little to no training. It was never intended to protect a family after a natural disaster and is ill suited to that purpose. If the answer comes down to supportability and simplicity, you need a shotgun.
Everybody has their own ideas about guns, that is part of their charm. There are near-infinite combinations of precision, wounding potential, and magazine capacity. There is much opinion on this. I will give you mine. You are welcome to violently disagree; it is your God-given right.
I have been to some bad places around the world and have seen bad things happen. When I lived on the Gulf Coast, I went through the aftermath of several major hurricanes. I now live in a rural area and maintain a wide selection of weapons. When I hear a noise in the night, I grab the shotgun.
The AK was designed for wartime production. The elimination of a bolt hold-open feature saved three parts. In Soviet Russia, magazines are scarce and valuable, so you are driven to hold the magazine to work the flapper magazine release. This is meant to make you hold on to magazines rather than let them drop free, since it’ll be in your hand before you insert the next magazine. The sights require a tool to adjust. This keeps recruits from messing up the fine zero the factory armorers put on it.
Semiautomatic rifles have their place. In the proper hands, with quality ammo and parts, they can shoot a lot of rounds a long way. There is also a place for bolt guns, but the relatively slow rate of fire demands that they be employed with some stand-off. At distance, even a Lee-Enfield or Mosin-Nagant could be effective.
My vote for home protection? The all-American choice is the Remington 870. The pump shotgun is incredibly simple. The controls? A safety button and a pump. Work the pump and shoot. Got a jam? Work the pump and shoot. Repeat as necessary and reload.
It is funny the way people take to a certain gun. My God-father used the Remington 870 in Vietnam. He told me to buy one. The 870 always felt right to me. I am not knocking the Mossberg or other pumps, but I like the 870. If my God-father had been issued a Mossberg, I would probably have one.
The 870 has great ergonomics and a Magpul stock makes them even better. The shotgun itself has a modern, modular design with many aftermarket upgrades available. I recommend a flashlight and Tritium sights for home-defense use.
Without a magazine or available ammo, the AK is a pretty ineffective club. If you are planning on serious use, you’d better have extra magazines and more ammo than you think you need.
Pump shotguns are dead-simple and rugged. There is no magazine to lose, and with minimal care, your grand-kids will still be able to use it. They should be cleaned and lubricated every 10,000 rounds or so, but even that is not necessary.
The AK doesn’t fail often, but it can fail. I have broken trigger springs and had ruptured cartridges that required a special tool to clear. The parts are not designed to be replaced or interchangeable. Ever changed the barrel in an AK? The Russians would laugh at you. They never figured any Russian soldier would survive long enough to shoot out a barrel.
In spite of loose tolerances, every country that made an AK added a little flair. I have seen guns where parts were hand-fitted with files to go together. Better to have a spare gun than spare parts.
The AK has a rough trigger and poor sights. If it ever gets dark where you live, you might consider how hard it is to see those sights at night.
The AK comes in two main calibers: 7.62×39mm and 5.45×39mm. If you are serious about using an AK for SHTF in America, there are some variants around that shoot .223; this would be very handy.
Shotguns can use an astounding variety of readily available ammo. Even during the great ammo famine I could still find 12 gauge.
Because of its caliber, the 12 gauge shotgun is considered a Destructive Device by federal law. There is a specific exemption for “sporting purposes” which permits this powerful weapon to be sold without a tax stamp. The famous 12 gauge “Street Sweeper” was removed from the exemption and declared a Destructive Device after the fact by ATF.
A typical OO Buckshot 12-gauge buckshot round has nine 30-caliber pellets and will keep a man-sized pattern out to 25 yards. The creation of multiple wound channels is devastating. Even birdshot hits like a slug at room distances. A 1-ounce slug will reach out accurately at 100 yards if you know what you are doing. Think about how far you can see from your yard. Science demands the insertion of a ballistic gelatin video here.
Not surprisingly, Buckshot was so named for killing deer. My favorite is the Remington Reduced Recoil 8-pellet. They eliminated one of the pellets and did some kind of vodoo with seemingly defies Newtonian Physics by maintaining good penetration and patterns good while producing much less recoil.
A shotgun with an 18-inch Cylinder Bore or Improved Cylinder barrels will fire buck shot in a cone shaped pattern which spreads from the barrel of the gun at a rate of about one inch for each yard traveled. Knowing your pattern and using loads with tight shot patterns keep all the rounds in the target and out of your neighbors and family.
Shotgun buckshot and slugs will go through eight or ten layers of sheet rock in walls, so you can’t just spray it around. If shot up in the air it will fall out of the sky in a few hundred yards.
FUN HISTORY FACT: The Imperial German Army in WW1 knew a few things about effective weapons. They had deployed flame throwers, poison gas, machine guns and high explosives. In 1918, the German’s ran into Americans carrying the Model 97 Trench Guns (a 12 gauge pump shotgun) shooting 00 buckshot. They filed a diplomatic complaint that the shotgun was cruel and illegal because the 1907 Hague Convention said “it is especially forbidden to employ arms, projections, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering”. When the Americans laughed at this, the German Army threatened to execute soldiers caught with shotguns. Challenge accepted! American General Pershing replied that Germans caught with flamethrowers or saw-bladed bayonets would be shot.
Pump shotguns are reliable and fast, but hold relatively few rounds and are slow to reload once empty. My 870 holds nine rounds. If there are more than nine people I need to kill all at once, I will call a friend with a shotgun and/or transition to a handgun as I run away.
United States Vice President Joe Biden is a big shotgun fan. He has recommended shotguns as the best choice for home defense. As he famously said “You don’t need an AR, you don’t need thirty rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun. If you want to protect yourself, get a double barreled shotgun.”
I would give almost the same advice, “Jill, if there’s ever a man who is trying to rape and kill you and the kids, just walk out on the balcony here…and fire two blasts into his chest. Then reload and call the neighbors for help.”
Whether you are trained on the AK or you just have a lot in common with an illiterate teenage conscript, you may want to consider a shotgun for around the house. They are legal in all 50 states, will run under filthy conditions, and tolerate inexcusable abuse. High-quality shotguns and 12-gauge ammo are cheap and plentiful; after a disaster, availability may vary. Buy a couple of them and make some friends.
(Featured image courtesy of gandermountain.com)
by Mark Miller loudoutroom.com
Mark Miller is a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. He’s a poet-warrior in the classic sense, a casual hero and a student of science.